Lucocoa Chocolate was born in December 2014; the brainchild of budding entrepreneur Amarachi Uzowuru and her boyfriend Andy Clarke.
Despite both holding down full time jobs in the city, the duo were inspired to launch their own business based upon their passion for chocolate, and London's first bean to bar chocolate making company was born.
“I had an idea to bring out a range of healthy foods, starting with chocolate, fell in love with it and we never looked back!” Uzowuru told BQ.
“We just wanted to take people away from the misconception that chocolate has to be a guilty pleasure and instead show them that it can be healthy as well as delicious. As our strap line says; not naughty, just nice!”
The company is one of less than 30 ‘bean to bar’ craft chocolate makers in the UK, which means they carefully search the globe for cacao beans and import them to the UK. They are then turned into chocolate, a process which takes the duo around three to four days.
“We started experimenting and making trial batches at home, once we'd worked out how to import the beans and who from (a major concern was to make sure we got them from a source that ensured the farmers were paid fairly), and then once we'd fine-tuned our recipes started producing from a commercial kitchen.
“We did, and still do, everything ourselves. We used our own money to start with and then applied for funding and mentoring via the Virgin Startup scheme which we secured after submitting a detailed business plan.”
Holding down full time jobs and running the company has proved challenging – as it does for any part time business owner – but the couples commitment and determination has paid off massively.
“We're now stocked at Wholefoods Market, Raw Press, Cocoa Runners and many independent stores which was a big deal for us and the challenge now is to grow the business in a sustainable way so we can attract new orders and successfully fulfil them.
“We both still work full time, me as a project manager at Unicef and Andy as a sports broadcaster. Juggling employment and a startup isn't easy, there are plenty of highs and lows, but you always have to look for the positives.
“We'd love to get our own shop as well as sell online, which we've done from the beginning, so the next big target really would be to get into a position where one of us could quit the day job and work on Lucocoa full time.
“We know that has to happen if we're to really discover just how far we can go. It's all about timing and calculating when's the right time to make the leap, if there ever really is a right time!
“To start your own business you have to be prepared to take risks and not be afraid of failure; you have to put yourselves out there and risk failing to give yourself a chance of succeeding, at least that's how we look at it.”
After a strong first 18 months in business, the future looks bright for the brand, and having had a taste for success, the couple are looking to the future with high expectations.
“In five years we'd like to have our own shop, more than one hopefully, where we make and sell the chocolate (at the moment we manufacture our bars in a room in our flat that we've converted into our very own chocolate factory).
“The margins are so much better when you can sell straight to the public but of course we'd also like to grow our list of stockists and become a fixture on the shelves of stores that share our dedication to quality and ethical standards.
“I'm not sure if we'll ever be in one of the huge supermarkets, it's not really a marketplace that's compatible with our price point and our ethos, but you can never say never!”
BQ will continue to cover the Lucocoa Chocolate story as the company continues to grow.
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